The European Union is providing €1.65 million in humanitarian aid funding in response to severe flooding that have affected South Asia — most notably Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
The support comes on top of the €1.8 million announced earlier this year to support families affected by a series of disasters, including Cyclone Amphan that ravaged India and Bangladesh in May, bringing the total EU support to victims of disasters in the region to €3.45 million, said the EU Embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The flooding has affected some 17.5 million people, wiping out homes, livelihoods such as livestock and agricultural lands, and destroying vital infrastructure, including roads, hospitals and schools.
“The monsoon rains across South Asia have been particularly devastating this year and this urgent contribution will help our humanitarian partners on the ground in providing crucial support to those who have lost their shelters, belongings and sources of livelihood,” said Taheeni Thammannagoda, who oversees EU humanitarian programmes in Asia and the Pacific.
“Focusing on the worst affected countries, we’re providing the means for people to survive through this difficult time so that they can get back on their feet as soon as possible.”
Out of the total funding, €1 million will be dedicated to addressing the urgent humanitarian needs in Bangladesh, where over two million people are in need of food assistance, water, sanitation, hygiene and emergency shelter. Some 850,000 remain displaced, a figure expected to increase as rains continue.
A further €500,000 will be used in India to provide food and livelihood assistance, emergency relief supplies, and water and sanitation services.
So far, this year’s monsoon rains have impacted at 10.9 million and has amplified people’s vulnerabilities as they struggle to tackle the consequences of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In Nepal, €150,000 will be used to address the pressing need for water and sanitation, shelter and essential household items following the displacement of thousands of people after the rains unleashed devastating landslides across the country.
The funding is part of the EU’s Acute Large Emergency Response Tool (ALERT).
Measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be incorporated in all programming.
Officially confirmed coronavirus cases in Bangladesh soared to 2,63,503 on Tuesday with the detection of 2,996 new cases in the last 24 hours until morning.
The health authorities also reported 33 deaths, taking the local tally to 3,471.
Bangladesh reported its first cases on March 8 and the first death on March 18.
Labs across the country have tested 12,27,988 samples so far -- 14,820 of them in the last 24 hours.
During this period, 1,535 patients recovered, pushing up the recovery number to 1,51,972.
Global coronavirus situaiton
Global COVID-19 cases have surpassed 20 million, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
The global case count reached 20,011,186, with a total of 734,664 deaths worldwide, the CSSE data showed on Tuesday morning.
The United States, the worst-hit country by the pandemic, has recorded 5,089,416 cases and 163,425 fatalities, accounting for a quarter of the global caseload.
Brazil is the second hardest-hit country with 3,057,470 cases and 101,752 deaths.
Meanwhile, India has confirmed more than 2.2 million cases.
Coronavirus was first reported in China’s Wuhan province in December last year and later it spread across the globe rapidly.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11.
The Plasma and Blood Donation Centre set up by Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital in memory of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman will be opened on August 15.
Dr MA Khan, a professor of Dhaka Medical College’s Hematology department who heads the technical sub-committee on plasma therapy at the country’s premier medical college, will inaugurate the centre at 11am on Saturday, said a press release on Tuesday.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK) founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury will also be present at the programme.
Contacted, Zafrullah said they are going to open the centre on the National Mourning Day commemorating the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. “We want to show respect to him who himself named our institution as Gonoshasthaya by opening the centre on that day.”
Initially, he said, 25 people will be given plasma every day at the centre. “When different hospitals are taking Tk 20,000-25,000, we’ll only charge Tk5,000-6,000 for providing corona patients with plasma therapy.”
Dr Zafrullah said plasma is very important for many corona-infected people to beat the virus. “Many people become very weak physically when they get infected with corona. Plasma is effective for them since it enhances their energy and strengthens their immune system to fight off the virus.”
From September, he said, 50 people will be given plasma daily and an additional 50 people will be provided with various other facilities, including blood transfusions for thalassemia and hemoglobinopathy.
Dr Zafrullah, a freedom fighter, said they are also planning to open the corona unit at the same hospital by September 15.
He said they have taken steps for providing treatment to corona patients at the Gonoshasthaya Nagar Hospital in the city’s Dhanmondi area at the corona unit at a cheaper cost.
Zafrullah said there will be a general ward with central oxygen facility alongside an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the Covid-19 patients at the hospital.
In an open letter, the freedom fighter said he recently urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to inaugurate the unit. “But we still didn’t get any response from the PM office.”
The health authorities announced detection of four new dengue cases in the last 24 hours until Tuesday morning.
In a regular update, the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) said nine dengue patients are currently undergoing treatment at hospitals.
Read Also: No new dengue case reports in 24 hrs
The health authorities reported 373 cases since the beginning of this year. Among them, 363 made recovery.
Bangladesh witnessed a massive dengue outbreak last year when 101,354 people were hospitalised and 101,037 made full recovery.
According to official figures, the mosquito-borne disease killed 179 people last year.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has prayed for quick recovery of former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
In a message sent to Mukherjee's office, Dr Momen described him as a great friend of Bangladesh.
The Foreign Minister said he had the opportunity to meet Mukherjee when he was a Minister during 1973-1974.
"My first visit was to India after I had taken over responsibility as Foreign Minister," Dr Momen said.
He said he visited Mukherjee's official residence with his wife and invited him to join Bangabandhu's birth centenary celebrations.
"I expect he will soon visit Bangladesh after recovering quickly" said the Foreign Minister.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam also prayed for speedy recovery of former President of India and one of the greatest friends of Bangladesh who went through a brain surgery and tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier, Pranab Mukherjee confirmed that he tested positive for COVID-19.
"On a visit to the hospital for a separate procedure, I have tested positive for COVID19 today. I request the people who came in contact with me in the last week, to please self isolate and get tested for COVID-19," he tweeted.